Rating: 5 / 5
I bought this pack for three main reasons: (1) I thought of it as a way to ease my way into backpacking light; (2) I wanted to be able to carry a little extra weight for hikes with my kids; and (3) I do a good bit of fly fishing and we all know that most FF can pack in a little extra weight sometimes. In short, I needed flexibility yet still be far lighter than your average pack that will carry this much gear.
First, let me say this about the design of the pack. I have owned it for two years and I haven't found anything that it is missing that I think I need. In fact, I have found the exact opposite. It has features that I really enjoy - the lid expands or can be taken off, the access zipper is great, and the straps just outside the zipper for additional gear are great in a pinch for a kids' bedroll or for your rain gear so you'll have easy access to it.
Second, the pack so far has proved itself to be very resistant to stain, water, tears, etc (knock on wood). Just last week, I hiked through an unexpected downpour. Because I had my essentials inside in waterproof/resistant sacks, I didn't even worry about a pack cover or my poncho (short storm and very warm outside). I wouldn't have needed one, regardless of how the contents were packed because there was no water in the pack.
Third, I have read some complaints about the side compression straps being over the side pockets. This is a non-issue for me, and I use the side pockets for fishing rods, gear, etc.
Fourth, the lid on the pack is a plus for me. I thought I wouldn't use it and save myself 6-8 ounces, but I am glad I have it because now it doubles as my FF "vest" and it is easy to lash on a light rain jacket (I have used a golite virga and a frogg togg) and a water bottle with a built-in filter. This gives you your all-day fishing needs.
Finally, I have come close to the 40lb mark packing in my kids gear and even though I had a noticeably heavier pack on picking it up, I felt no less comfortable at the end of the day than if I pack a lighter load of 25-30 lbs. Basically, it lives up to my flexibility needs.
I probably could have gone with a GG Vapor Trail or a GG Meridian Vapor, but I was willing to add just a little more weight (only 10 more ounces above the Meridian Vapor) to allow me to carry a little more weight.
I can't recommend this pack enough to people looking for something similar this. I am grateful for all the folks on this site who told me about GG packs, gear, etc. They don't sell their packs in a lot of stores, but they are extremely high quality.